Determining patterns of water scarcity and drought risk reduction of Lake Urmia Basin through adaptation and strategic management

Document Type : Applied Article


1 Ph.D. Student, Basin Management, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran

2 Associate Professor of the Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran

3 Professor, Faculty of Natural Resources, University of Tehran

4 Professor of Imam Hossein University


Lake Urmia is one of the centers that has suffered a water shortage due to natural and man-made factors, and in case of lack of appropriate measures, apart from security problems, it can also impose exorbitant costs on the country. This issue requires more attention and conducting more comprehensive studies from various aspects, especially intelligent basin management and integrated studies of water and soil resources and the implementation of specialized and timely programs for the supply of agricultural, drinking and industrial water. Investigations carried out during the last two decades show that the water level of Lake Urmia has decreased by more than eight meters and its area has decreased by more than 80% and has been subjected to complete drying (Shadkam, 2017). Currently, the water level of Lake Urmia is 1271 meters above sea level, the volume of water is 3 billion cubic meters and its area is between 2500 and 3000 square kilometers, and to reach the water level of 1274 meters and an area of ​​4300 square kilometers, it needs 14 billion cubic meters of water. Also, in order to reach the ideal water level, i.e. 1276 meters and an area of ​​5700 square kilometers, the volume of water should increase to 30 billion cubic meters (Asri and Ahmadi, 2018). Also, the drying of this lake can have a great impact on the life of the population living in the basin, the organisations inside the lake basin. Agriculture and economy of the region, climate change in the region and  proper management of water resources and accurate knowledge of water balance components are of particular importance (Abdali et al., 2018). Since the drying up of this lake can have a great impact on the life of the population living in the basin, the organisms inside the lake, agriculture and economy of the region, climate change in the region and even political adversities, therefore it is necessary to apply proper management in order to adapt to the existing conditions and carry out basic planning. is inevitable (Fazli, 2014). Therefore, the main reason for the lack of water and the drying up of Lake Urmia is the lack of foresight and long-term planning, and more importantly, the lack of discipline in the management and guidance of operational plans at the basin level (Mahdavi Damghani, 2019). Basically, strategic management includes 3 stages of strategy setting, strategy implementation and strategy evaluation, which the QSPM matrix (quantitative strategic planning matrix) is proportional to the first stage, that is, strategy setting. SWOT analysis includes the systematic identification of factors with which the strategy should have the best compatibility. The logic of the mentioned approach is that an effective strategy should maximize the strengths and opportunities of the system and minimize the weaknesses and threats. If this logic is used correctly, it will have very good results for choosing and designing an effective strategy (Zangiabadi and Mousavi, 2012). In 1989, Johnson et al., in a study, introduced SWOT as a tool used in the early stages of decision making. This matrix is ​​effective in implementing development plans if specific goals and required indicators are available (Johnson et al., 1990).
In this research, it is tried to determine the management strategies of Urmia lake basin in order to adapt to water shortage and drought in the process of comprehensive basin management using strategic management models (SWOT and QSPM). Therefore, it is necessary to first identify the strengths and weaknesses, as well as the opportunities and threats of the basin, and then determine the practical strategies, and after analyzing them, using the QSPM model, prioritize strategies to modify or complete the plans. In progress, he suggested to the relevant officials. Quantitative strategic planning matrix QSPM is an analytical method that determines the relative attractiveness of strategies. With this method, it is possible to objectively determine the various strategies that are among the best strategies, and the results of the matrix of internal and external factors are used to prepare a quantitative strategic planning matrix. In fact, this technique determines which of the selected strategic options is possible and  then prioritizes these strategies (Zarrabi and Mahboob Far, 2012).
Regarding the innovation in the research topic, in general, most of the studies have been done, they have discussed why the lake dries up and also provide solutions to improve the problem of dryness of Lake Urmia. Some studies have also addressed the problems caused by the drying up of Lake Urmia and its possible damages in the future and have concluded that it is important and necessary to try to revive this lake. Also, the researches that have been carried out in fields such as water shortage or drying up of Lake Urmia have mostly focused on the environmental, economic, health and sustainable development and even political, security and geopolitical aspects, but so far not much attention has been paid to the issue of strategic planning of Lake Urmia. and so far, a detailed assessment of the strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats in the comprehensive management of the Lake Urmia basin has not been done. Therefore, this research has a scientific innovation from this point of view.
Research and analysis method
There are different methods and models to investigate and analyze this issue. Each of these models has its own concept and insight and follows a special technique and instructions. Among them, the SWOT matrix, which evaluates the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the system, is more common and famous (Hill, T. and R. Westbrook, 1997). The SWOT model is one of the group decision-making models used in It is designed to determine long-term or short-term strategy and make big and key decisions about various issues and topics. The main task of the mentioned model is to determine the strategy to improve the efficiency or the situation (Bazrafkan and Ekhsish, 2015). Therefore, the application of SWOT analysis in the field of basin management in determining the optimal conditions and logical guidelines with appropriate executive and legal support, alignment between legislative, executive, supervisory organizations and the interpretation and analysis of the current conditions governing the basin, especially in the field of comprehensive studies and even The evaluation of the system letters and the description of the study services will be in different stages of justification, semi-detailed and detailed-executive (Chang, 2006 & Huang). Therefore, the use of new methods in the review of plans and programs can be very beneficial in order to achieve the goals of management. Based on the SWOT model, appropriate strategies are developed to achieve maximum strengths and opportunities and minimize weaknesses and threats (Nikolaou et al, 2010). It is necessary to set laws and extensive trainings and simultaneously conduct studies with the mentioned approach to understand the results obtained from it (Afkhami, 2018). In this research, SWOT and QSPM models were used to determine the appropriate strategies for determining adaptation patterns to water scarcity and drought in Lake Urmia. After collecting and analyzing the information obtained from the questionnaires using SPSS software, the total and average scores obtained for each factor were calculated, as well as the normalized weight along with the weighted score using EXPERT CHOICE software. Then, based on the ranking of the weighted points from the highest to the lowest, the top 5 strategies were determined in terms of the highest weighted points for each of the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Then the factors identified in the four modes of SO (offensive strategies), WO (conservative strategies), ST (competitive strategies) and WT (defensive strategies) were linked.
Materials and methods
In order to carry out the applied model of the research, first the current situation of the basin was investigated, then based on the models and patterns of management and strategic planning, environmental and internal factors were investigated, and by determining the strengths and weaknesses, threats and opportunities, it was analyzed. The findings of the analysis using the SWOT model and its related matrices include: evaluation matrices of external and internal factors and the combination of both, and finally, the QSPM quantitative strategic planning matrix is ​​prepared. To determine the strategy, examining the internal and external factors alone is not the answer, and to identify the areas that can be improved, in addition to the SWOT model, it is necessary to analyze it using the quantitative strategic planning matrix or QSPM. For this reason, after examining the SWOT matrix, the QSPM analysis method is used. In fact, the research application model is obtained from the combination of the two matrices of SWOT strategic analysis and QSPM quantitative strategic planning.
Discussion and Results
The studies conducted show that 10 factors have been identified as strengths and 17 factors have been identified as weaknesses to determine patterns of adaptation to water scarcity and drought based on the strategic management approach. Also, among the external factors (opportunities), 15 factors have been identified and 9 factors have been identified as threats.
The most important factor among the strengths of 1-preventing new development in the agricultural sector and 2-stopping all dam construction projects has been identified in the study. On the other hand, the most important weaknesses have been identified: 1- the creation of a future research center in the environmental organization and 2- the pathology of the social effects caused by the drying up of the lake. The most important opportunity for Lake Urmia 1- Education and raising awareness 2- Applying ecosystem-based management has been identified in contrast to the most important threat to the basin of Lake Urmia 1- Increasing water extraction from underground sources (drilling illegal wells) and 2- The planting of non-native and aquatic species has been identified.
Also, based on the sum total of internal and external factors, the scope of determining the strategy was determined. As explained in the methodology section of this research, the IFE-EFE matrix is ​​used to determine the range, and according to the calculations, the strategy range was placed in a conservative position. Therefore, WO strategies will be used for ranking and prioritizing strategies for the consistent management of Lake Urmia.
In the next step, quantitative strategic planning matrix or QSPM was formed. In the quantitative strategic planning process, different strategies are examined and the best ones are selected. Meanwhile, in order to evaluate the attractiveness of each of the strategic factors in Table 4, a quantitative matrix for determining strategies compatible with water scarcity and drought for the management of Lake Urmia along with the attractiveness scores and other calculations is provided.
In this research, which was carried out in order to formulate and prioritize the strategy and patterns of adaptation to water shortage and drought in the Urmia catchment area, according to the different coefficients assigned to different internal and external factors, each of the influencing variables in the form of standardized matrices (matrix of internal factors and foreign) were measured and evaluated. The results obtained from the total weighted points of the matrix of internal factors showed that the management of the Urmia Lake catchment area has weaknesses in terms of adaptation to water shortage and drought in terms of internal factors, and in fact, the amount of weaknesses is more than the amount of strengths. Also, the results obtained from the total weighted points of the matrix of external factors showed that the compiled patterns are facing opportunities in terms of external factors. In other words, managers' advancement opportunities have a higher influence than threatening factors. The simultaneous analysis of internal and external factor matrices showed the general situation of the strategies related to the pattern of adaptation to water shortage and drought in the conservative area.
QSPM matrix calculations in Table 5 showed that among the optimal WO strategies, priority is related to WO5, WO2, WO3, WO1 and WO4 strategies respectively. Therefore, in order to develop patterns of adaptation to water scarcity and drought in Lake Urmia, first of all, policies should be applied in the direction of changing the cultivation pattern by identifying salt-tolerant species suitable to the conditions of the region. Then apply ecosystem-oriented management by studying and implementing the national park's ecological protection program. In the next stage, the preparation of the plan to increase employment and alternative livelihoods should be done with the participation of the people, and finally, the prevention of unauthorized withdrawals from surface water should be implemented by applying integrated management and reforming the structure of the country's divisions, as well as organizing wells and installing volume smart meters in order to establish the water market.


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